Africa’s Economy: The Impact of Social Media Shutdown

According to Surfshark a cybersecurity company that monitors social media, the number of cases of social media censorship worldwide has fallen by 35% in 2021.

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Despite the apparent decrease in internet-related cases, almost a quarter-billion people were still affected by internet disruptions.

17 countries experienced complete or partial internet shutdowns, according to records.

According to the annual report, Africa accounts for almost 53% of all cases in 2021.

Platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter were shut down and censored.

It is important that you note that most of the social media shutdown cases were political in nature.

Vytautas Kasiukonis (CEO of Surfshark) commented on these censorships, saying that “2021 has been better than 2020 in terms if politics.” It is clear that countries don’t hesitate to close down social media when there is political turmoil. This is evident in Africa and Asia more than anywhere else.

These bans hampered the economy of many countries, and cut off communication for millions of people in times of political crisis and pandemic. Surfshark’s research shows that the blocking affected more than 250 million people.

These bans had an impact on the economies of many countries. However, African countries seem more affected by this as Africa has been the most censorship-intensive area in the world.

These are the countries in Africa that have implemented bans on social media/internet and their impact on their economies.

Chad

After Yaya Dillo was raided, a representative from Chad took control of the government position. This event occurred two months prior to the presidential election on February 28, 2021.

Ethiopia

Social media was shut down in Ethiopia, but it was attributed to leaked 12-grade exam papers. Most people believed that the internet was shut down after rebel forces seized strategic areas.

Nigeria

After tweets by the Nigerian President were deleted by Twitter, the Nigerian government decided to suspend Twitter on the 5th of June 2021.

According to the government, the platform was banned for “undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” and inciting violence by spreading fake news.

After negotiation between the platform’s government and Nigeria’s, the ban was lifted on 13 January 2022.

Twitter ban had negative economic effects on the economy. Many companies and SMEs couldn’t access current or new customers.

Here is a breakdown of economic costs associated with internet outages in Africa

Economic Impacts of Social Media Blackouts In Africa

Africa is home to 226 million of the most teeming young people in the world.

It also means that it accounts for 60% of the continent’s unemployment rate. To properly care for and maximize its growing youth population, Africa must use all legal resources and avenues to grow.

The closing of social media channels not only reduces these avenues but also blocks youths from pursuing their dreams.

It is estimated that Africa lost approximately US$ 237,000,000 due to internet blackouts in the period 2015-2017.

According to Net Blocks so far, internet shutdowns have had an economic cumulative impact of US$1Billion.

In just 200 days, Twitter lost over 500 billion Nigerian naira due to its shutdown. This is undoubtedly a huge blow to the economy. The government also has to be blamed as Nigeria’s GDP continues its decline. Any form of social media or internet shutdown should not be a problem for the economy.

We are happy to report that the issue is now resolved and that enterprises can resume doing business on the platform.

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